Two women find each other in Holland, brought together improbably by a set of worn quilts, made by groups of women half-a-world-away who simply used what they had. First there is An in Holland in the early 1940s, fighting to keep the War from taking over her young, promising life. Despite being from a well-to-do family, she risks her life repeatedly to care for war-time refugees--hiding a Jewish baby in her hand-luggage while on a ferry that draws gunfire; distracting the guard at a bridge so a fugitive without a pass can be bicycled across; stuffing documents under a body lying in state in a room in her home when soldiers suddenly launch a raid; and much more. At the same time, groups of women across North America meet in sewing circles, indignant that the War is destroying homes and families throughout Europe. They know they can't stop the devastation. But they can make quilts--and then bundle them up and send them off to do their part to give comfort and courage during the War. Lynn comes 20-some years later, showing up in Amsterdam fresh from America in the mid-1960s, a little rebellious and tired of another war. She didn't know An then, and quilts were not something she ever made. But her grandmother and aunts and other older women in her childhood church did. One weekend, Lynn discovers the quilts that survived the war and goes searching for their owner and their stories. She found An and, ultimately, herself. The book brings together these true, yet nearly unbelievable stories; it pictures the 19 work-worn quilts, along with many historic photographs of the places where the war reached An, as well as current photos of An and Lynn together today. This is a treasure that will inspire women everywhere not to turn aside from helping others--in little ways, in ordinary ways.
This is a story with many parts and pieces, quite scattered in the beginning. Amazingly, the many pieces have come together to form a design that none of us imagined at first. First there is An in Holland in the early 1940s, fighting to keep the War from taking over her young, promising life. Met with unspeakable horrors, she takes risks that would confound the bravest of souls. At the same time, groups of women across North America meet in sewing circles, making quiltsand then bundling them up and sending them off to do their part to give comfort and courage and respite during the War. I, Lynn, come 20-some years later, showing up in Amsterdam in the early 1970s, a little rebellious and tired of another war. I didn't know An, and quilts were not something I ever made. But my grandmother and aunts, and other older women in my childhood church, did. And I knew an immigrant's longing for the textures of home. We have scattered images of 19 quilts, which eventually emerge near the heart of this story, throughout the book. These quilts drew An and me to each other. We'll put this story together a little like a quilt tophere a patch, there a patch, until the design emerges, startlingly cohesive. Terrible odds. Determined women. Quilts, well-worn from having been called into active duty.
An Keuning-Tichelaar was born in 1922 in Makkum, a harborplace near Witmarsum, Friesland, the Netherlands. She stems from a very old, established family who are creators of the world-famous Royal Tichelaar Makkum ceramics. This book describes her life from 1922-1947, but this is not the end of her story. Married in 1944, she is the mother of three children. Her home, the parsonage, was always a haven for needy children, youth, and adults. She and her husband continue to answer the call “to be there,” even now, after 60 years of marriage.
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